This week we hosted our first Fireside chat in The Powder Room, our private facebook group for MPowder Subscribers and Makers. This series, hosted by two of our brilliant experts, Gabriella of Women’s Body Wisdom and Henny of The Positive Menopause, is a space for women to ask our experts questions, share experiences and explore strategies to support their individual menopause journey.
The first topic resonated with many and looked to explore the narrative threads, spoken and unspoken, we inherit about menopause. Research shows that the midlife stories of women in our lives can imprint themselves, often unconsciously, onto our expectations of ourselves. These expectations come from other sources too - from representations we see in media, and the accepted narrative in society and our immediate social circle.
" My mum came from a generation that shut up and put up." Natasha, MPowder maker in conversation with our consultant coach, Henny Flynn, Founder of the Positive Menopause
It was a fascinating session. We know that, for generations before ours, women gathered in places to shine a light on womanhood, to educate each other and signpost life’s transitions. Then, over time, those stories went underground. They became hushed. Taboo. Until, for many of us, the places to have those conversations disappeared entirely.
As a group we reflected that analysing our own perceptions of menopause can be hard. Few of us feel, initially, we have internalised much at all. Yet, as we talked further, it all changed. One member of our community described a generation of women in her family who didn’t talk. Even when there were devastating consequences for family. Because there wasn’t room for conversation; from puberty, to childbirth, to menopause - the opening up of dialogue, and the exploration of the female body and mind is only really starting again now.
But she also spoke of liberation. Of her desire to pass on a new story to her daughter. The importance of honesty with her sister, her mum, her husband and son too. And the joy she gets from telling her story openly on social media - part of a growing community of diverse and really important voices remaking the signposts we all need.
Gabriella and Henny stressed the importance of respecting the stories we hold. And Gabriella spoke of the value of ritual in releasing stories and narratives that don’t serve you; whether that is about writing the stories down and burning them, consciously noting them as threads rather than your tapestry or physically ‘having a good full body shake’.
" These inherited stories can feel like the cuckoo in the nest…and, like the cuckoo they can grow, and suffocate your own narrative" (Henny)
If you want to explore how to facilitate release, Gabriella recommends somatic or embodied work with your body and voice - and the act of simply feeling where you hold the story in your body in order to address it.
We all spoke of the value of self-compassion when exploring what we have learned; for ourselves and those people who influenced us consciously and unconsciously. Of the value of recognises, without judgement what may be limiting us.
And, if you’re curious about what impact the stories you carry have, the team ended with a really useful exercise. Simply grab a piece of paper, a pen and find some quiet. Then, ask yourself 5 questions:
• What stories have you absorbed?
• What is the impact of those stories on how you feel today?
• How do you honor those that came from those you love?
• What stories serve you well and which ones can you release?
• What will your story be?
As Henny guided those of us in the session, ‘..simply sit with this a while. And see what falls out the end of your pen’.
As Gabriella stressed at the Fireside close; ‘There are also many ways of calling in the story you want to bring into the world. Write down the emotions that come to mind. The colours. The words. The feeling. These are the start of your story.’
With love, the MPowder Team.